A validation study of students’ end comments:

Comparing comments by students, a writing instructor, and a content instructor

Melissa Patchan, Davida Charney and Christian Schunn,

Journal of Writing Research, 1.2 (2009) 124-152.


In order to include more writing assignments in large classrooms, some instructors have been utilizing peer review. However, many instructors are hesitant to use peer review because they are uncertain of whether students are capable of providing reliable and valid ratings and comments. Previous research has shown that students are in fact capable of rating their peers' papers reliably and with the same accuracy as instructors. On the other hand, relatively little research has focused on the quality of students’ comments. This study is a first in-depth analysis of students’ comments in comparison with a writing instructor’s and a content instructor’s comments. Over 1400 comment segments that were provided by undergraduates, a writing instructor, and a content instructor were coded for the presence of 29 different feedback features. Overall, our results support the use of peer review: students’ comments seem to be fairly similar to instructors’ comments. Based on the main differences between students and the two types of instructors, we draw implications for training students and instructors on providing feedback. Specifically, students should be trained to focus on content issues, while content instructors should be encouraged to provide more solutions and explanations.